retail news in context, analysis with attitude

ZDNet writes that Amazon has released what is described as its first transparency report ever, in which it "disclosed how many government data demands it receives." The story makes clear that Amazon was under no legal obligation to make the information public, but was under "mounting pressure in the face of transparency reports becoming an industry norm."

The report says that:

"Amazon received 813 subpoenas, of which it fully complied with 66 percent .... received 35 search warrants, of which it fully complied with just over half ... Out of the other 13 other court orders it received, Amazon fully complied with just four ... received 132 foreign requests, of which it fully complied with 82 percent ... disclosed that it had received between zero and 249 national security requests, such as a court order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

According to ZDNet, "Amazon is the last major technology company in the Fortune 500 to disclose how many times governments have come knocking on its door, demanding customer and user data."
KC's View:
I have a few different reactions to this information, the first of which is, exactly does one "fully comply" with only a percentage of the search warrants, court orders and other requests/demands for information that come from official sources?

I guess the answer is that Amazon has good lawyers.

As the company that probably knows as much about its customers - which, let's face it, is pretty much anyone with a computer and a pulse these days - Amazon is to be applauded, I think, for challenging these demands for information and only complying when it has to. While I haven't ordered anything to be ashamed of or worried about, I don't think the government should be able to come in with a big net and just seize all this information because it wants to. (It also occurs to me that what Amazon may be unwilling to give up, the credit card companies probably are more than happy to provide ... but I may feel that way because my general feeling of contempt for banks and credit card companies.)

Of course, having written that, I instantly have to acknowledge that I don't nearly enough about the threats the nation faces as the experts do, and I find this while discussion of how much liberty one is willing to give up to insure freedom to be endlessly fascinating.